According to Buddhism, a person can reach Nirvana or the highest state of enlightenment through continuous meditation and by participating in the Buddha’s daily service, among other things. Over time, many people have benefited from the practice of meditation.
Meditation, as practiced by Buddhist monks and practitioners, has become a spiritual tool and health enhancer. More than just the chants and meditative posture, meditation is about proper breathing and concentration of one’s thoughts. As a health and spiritual practice, meditation came into prominence centuries ago.
How do we know if we are already in a state of meditation or just wasting away time with our eyes closed? Meditation is a state of mind that leads to inner peace, self-fulfillment, self-improvement, and the development of a positive outlook in life.
There are two types of meditation; the concentrative and the mindfulness type.
Concentrative is focused on the person’s concentration, sitting quietly and calmly with good breathing patterns. It is said that one’s mind is somewhat connected to one’s breath of air. Continuous rhythm of inhales and exhales of the breath will make the person feel more calm and relaxed, focusing on the steady flow of air in and out of their bodies. This will result in the mind being more aware and tranquil at the same time.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, involves attention and awareness on passing waves of sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, sounds, smell, anything that your body can interact with. This in turn will give the person a more non-reactive mind state, much like looking at a television, without any feeling or thoughts that can bother you.
Meditation and relaxation often go hand in hand. In scientific studies, it has been proven that there are health benefits in regularly practicing meditation. By being in a relaxed state of mind, the person is also regarded as being in an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes good healing. Since people are constantly moving, being in a state of relaxation and stillness can enhance our overall well-being. Knowing all this, one can see the connection of both scientific and spiritual factors that are brought together by meditation.
Indeed, this activity shows a unique philosophy that can really help. In practicing meditation, a person can see their innermost self at its fullest. This can help a person dealing with external difficulties to see past all the challenges and become more humble and calm in dealing with situations. This relaxed state of meditating can also help take away simple headaches, stress, or even mild anxiety. There are no known ways that meditation can be harmful, so why not give it a try?
Meditation takes many forms in today’s society. All have one thing in common. They use concentration techniques to still the mind and stop thought. Various practices exist such as chanting (Mantra), focusing on energy centres in the body (Chakra Meditation), breathing, mindfulness (Mahamudra), loving kindness, formal sitting (Vipassana), expressive practices (Siddha Yoga), and walking to name some of the styles. Try each style and see what works for you or you may want to alternate between the techniques from time to time. For the purposes of this article, I will discuss Mahamudra and walking meditation.
Practical Steps To Begin Meditating
Find a place where there are few external distractions. A place where you feel emotionally comfortable, safe, removed from pressure and stress is the optimal location.
Wear clothing that is loose and sit or lie in a comfortable position.
Plan to meditate in an area that is warm and comfortable. You might want to have a blanket or light covering as some people experience a feeling of coldness when they aren’t moving around for a period of time.
Candles can be used to focus attention on the task at hand. If you use them, remember to be cautious and extinguish them before leaving the room.
Relaxation is a key component of meditation. Take a few moments to bring about a state of relaxation by taking a deep breath through your nose, expanding your lungs and diaphragm. Hold the breath for a few seconds and slowly exhale through your mouth. Do this several times until you feel relaxed.
Calm, soothing music can be helpful for inducing a state of tranquillity and relaxation
If you are hungry, have a little something to eat, as it is not necessary to meditate on a completely empty stomach.
Put your expectations aside and don’t worry about doing it right.
Mahamudra is the form of meditation that is a way of going about one’s daily activities in a state of mindfulness. It is meditation integrated into all aspects of our lives. This following exercise is one you can do anywhere to create a feeling of inner peace. It is particularly helpful for those times you are stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store or bank, at the office when days are hectic, or when you are picking up the kids from school or extra-curricular activities. What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it, wrote Hugh Mulligan. Meditation helps us remember to stop and smell the roses.
Begin by taking a deep breath. Breathe deeply and as you do expand your lungs and your diaphragm. Hold the breath for a few seconds and slowly exhale through the mouth. Focus on your breath and clear your mind. Do this several times until you feel the slowing of your breath and a deep sense of peace fill your body. Consciously feel the peace permeate your body. Drop your shoulders and connect through the top of your head to Universal Energy. Repeat. If you wish, send peace to those around you by connecting to their hearts with light and love.
A walking meditation is simply an exercise in awareness. There are four components:
Become aware of your breathing
Notice your surroundings
Be attentive to your body’s movement
Take some time to reflect on your experience when you return home.
To practice walking brings awareness to walking wherever you find yourself. Take notice of your breathing. Are you taking short, shallow breaths without even knowing it? If so, take several deep breaths and centre yourself in your body and in the present moment. Appreciate the wonderful body you have and the blessing of being able to walk.
Notice your surroundings. What season is it? Take a few minutes to listen to the noises around you. Feel the wind, sun, fog, rain or snow on your face. Look at the people, animals, birds, sky, trees, and buildings around you. Breathe in and out and realise that you are an integral part of the environment.
Pay attention to your body. Are you holding tension in your shoulders, neck, solar plexus, lower back, or legs? Breath into any areas where you are feeling tension and let it drain into the Earth. Next, pay attention to your posture. Are you standing straight and tall or slouching? Walk in a way that is comfortable for you with your body loose and uplifted. Walk with dignity and confidence, one foot in front of the other and pay attention to the experience of movement.
You can walk mindfully anywhere, along a sidewalk, walking your dog, in the mall, along the hallways at work. You simply remind yourself to be in this moment, taking each step as it comes. Some people find it helpful to repeat a mantra (mantras are sacred words repeated in order to bring focus to your mind). You can also use a variation on the walking mantra by counting your breaths. Walk more slowly than you usually do and count how many steps it takes for your intake of breath and how many steps for your exhale. In this type of meditation, your attention is focused on both your steps and your breathing bringing together a wonderful balance of peacefulness and awareness.
Take some time to reflect on your experience when you return home. Five or ten minutes brings closure to your walk and provides an opportunity to make the transition from this place of peace to ordinary day-to-day activities.
Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed? If so, you’re not alone. In today’s fast-paced world, many of us struggle to find a sense of peace and balance in our daily lives. However, there is a powerful tool that can help: meditation. By taking a few minutes each day to quiet your mind and focus on the present moment, you can reduce stress, improve your mental clarity, and cultivate a sense of inner peace.
What is Meditation and How Does it Work?
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of meditation and provide some tips on how to get started. First, let’s take a closer look at what meditation is and how it works. Meditation is a practice that involves focusing your attention on a particular object, such as your breath, a mantra, or a visualization. By doing so, you can quiet your mind and enter a state of deep relaxation.
Throughout history, meditation has been an integral part of many cultures. Records indicate that meditation was practiced in ancient Greece and India more than 5,000 years ago. In the Buddhist religion, meditation is an important part of their spiritual practice. Different forms of meditation are practiced in China and Japan, and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have traditions similar to meditation. The word meditation comes from the Latin meditari which means: exercise, turn something over in one’s mind, think, consider. It is defined as consciously directing your attention to alter your state of mind.
Meditation is one of the proven alternative therapies that in recent years have been classified under mind-body medicine therapies. It is continuing to gain popularity, as more and more health experts believe that there is more to the connection between mind and body than modern medicine can explain. According to researchers, meditation has been shown to aid the immune system and improve brain activity. More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way to lower blood pressure, to improve exercise performance, to help people with asthma to breathe easier, to relieve insomnia, and generally relax everyday stresses of life. Many hospitals now offer meditation classes for their patients because of the health benefits. All promote physiological health and well-being.
Traditionally, meditation has been used for spiritual growth, but more recently has become a valuable tool for managing stress and finding a place of peace, relaxation, and tranquility in a demanding fast-paced world. Benefits resulting from meditation include: physical and emotional healing; easing stress, fear, and grief; improved breathing; developing intuition; deep relaxation; exploring higher realities; finding inner guidance; unlocking creativity; manifesting change; emotional cleansing and balancing; and deepening concentration and insight.
Meditation elicits many descriptive terms: stillness, silence, tranquility, peace, quiet, and calm. All counter stress and tension. Lama Surya Das in his book Awakening The Buddha Within says, Meditation is not just something to do; it’s a method of being and seeing an unconditional way of living moment by moment. In other words, learning to live in this moment because this moment is all we have. Henry Winkler is quoted as saying; A human being’s first responsibility is to shake hands with herself. Meditation is an opportunity to shake hands with ourselves in a safe, simple way and to balance our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
How to Get Started with Meditation
If you’re new to meditation, it can be helpful to start with a guided meditation app or a local meditation group. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice, and gradually increase the length of your sessions as you become more comfortable.
When you meditate, try to find a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, and focus your attention on your breath. If your mind starts to wander, simply notice the thought and gently return your focus to your breath.
Conclusion: In conclusion, meditation is a powerful tool that can help you cultivate a sense of inner peace and well-being. By incorporating a daily meditation practice into your routine, you can reduce stress, improve your mental clarity, and enhance your overall quality of life. So why not give it a try? Start small, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the journey.